History

Who Are United Methodists?

We are

A covenant people – When you join a United Methodist congregation, you become a member of the United Methodist connection. Members promise God and the congregation to uphold the church with their prayers, presence, gifts and service.

A diverse community – The United Methodist Church was formed when the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged in 1968. United Methodists trace their spiritual heritage back to 18th century leaders including John and Charles Wesley, Jacob Albright, Philip Otterbein, Martin Boehm and Francis Asbury.

All persons are welcome in the United Methodist Church. We are committed in inclusiveness. Celebrating a diversity of people, ideas and cultures, we are enriched by our history. We are a global church. Our beautiful sanctuary was built in 1854, the congregation actually coming together for Christ in Newark in 1805.

Newark FUMC Current Building

FIRST UNITED METH0DIST CHURCH, Newark, NY – (Taken from the 1975 church “Yearbook”)

In 1805 Rev. Roger Benton, “remembering the beautiful country near the Ganargau Creek,” bought 100 acres of land from the William Pultney Company of Geneva.  At that time not a tree had been felled in this vicinity and Newark had no local habitation or name, so it is interesting to note from our records that this deed was signed by Lord Newark.

Rev. Benton, a retired circuit preacher in the Genesee Circuit, which dated back to 1796, built himself a log house near what is now North Main Street, making one room especially large where the early settlers congregated regularly for seven years for public preaching and social meetings.

The second meeting place and first church was built on the Benton farm near where the Willow Avenue Cemetery now is and was constructed by the members with spare time labor and holding bees.  The frame was raised on October 1, 1815 under the circuit pastorate of Rev. Daniel Barnes.  The edifice was dedicated June 22, 1816 by Roger Benton, Jeremiah Lusk, the families of Luce, Stansell, Ezra Lambright, Henry Cronise, along with the names of Winter, Aldrich, Crommett, Fosgate, Bostwick and Hickey.

There have been four church buildings built or rededicated on the present site.  “The Old White Church”, as the first one was known, was dedicated on September 20, 1827 by the Rev. John Dempster.  The preacher at the time was Rev. Israel Chamberlain and the choir was led by Pinkham Crommett.  Members at that time included Roger Benton, John L. Kipp, Henry Cronise, Minor Trowbridge, L. Bostwick, William Stansell, Pinkham Crommett, Oliver Morley, and Joseph Miller, who gave the land for the church.

In 1854, under Rev. J.K. Tuttle, the nucleus of the present church was built and was dedicated in June 1856 by Bishop Matthew Simpson.  Trustees at that time were Henry Cronise, Peter P. Kechor, Oliver Morley, John W. Benton and L.J. Benton.

The first May Day Celebration was held in 1886 and the annual practice continued until the early 1950’s.

The church building was remodeled, and was rededicated on February 1, 1888 by Dr. Charles N. Sims, Chancellor of Syracuse University.

The present church building was remodeled in 1915 when the Sunday School portion was built.  The corner stone was laid while Rev. Alfred Saxe was pastor.  The sanctuary was remodeled in 1924 during the pastorate of Rev. Bishop William Burt and Dr. L.S. Boyd, District Superintendent officiating.  A very complete history of the church and this dedication were printed in the January 24, 1924 issue of the Newark Courier.

In 1954 Rev. Howard Adamy was pastor when the interior of the church building was renovated.  The large main floor Sunday School room was converted into a Church Office, Chapel and lounge on the main floor and large recreation room on the second floor.  A new heating system was installed, a new roof was put on the church building and all the building was redecorated.  The total cost was $180,000.

During the seven years following 1963 when John Lewien was pastor, there was a strong emphasis on membership, youth work and Christian Education.  During these years Colgate Rochester Divinity School students, Clint Barlow ad Stewart Mitchell, and retired minister, Clyde Rosekrans, served as part-time assistant pastor.  Mr. Lewien had a stroke early in the last year of his pastorate and the members rallied to carry on the church’s programs during his convalescence.

In 1968 the Methodist Church and Evangelical United Bretheran Church joined in a national merger to form the United Methodist Church.  So thereafter First United Methodist Church has enjoyed the relationship with Emmanuel United Methodist Church as a sister congregation in Newark.

In 1970 James LeGro was appointed pastor.  His relaxed style and emphasis on personal relationships and creative worship forms marked a much-discussed and generally well-received transition.  Our present membership is 875 (at the time of the writing of the 1975 church Yearbook) and constantly changing.  Our aim is to minister to the needs of our members in the midst of a world of changing values and economic uncertainty and to extend a hand of love and hope to the community and world around us.

PASTORS OF FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH:  Among early itinerants who preached was Roger Benton, in whose log house services were held for some years.  The first regularly appointed preacher was Lawrence Riley, 1805.  The names of the men from this time on are unknown until 1829.  It is known that Seth Mattison preached occasionally in the Benton Woods.

John B. Alverson 1829-32 Dr. Watson 1891-92
Dennison Smith 1832-33 J. Crowe 1892-93
William J. Kent 1833-34 J.E. Allen 1893-98
T.J. Buck 1834-35 H.C. Mover 1898-1903
Jonathan Heustis 1835-36 C.M. Eddy 1903-04
DeForest Parsons 1836-37 Dr. Copeland 1904-09
Jonas Dodge 1837-39 Ward Mosher 1909-11
William P. Davis 1939-41 Eli Pittman 1911-13
H.N. Seiver 1841-43 C.M. Eddy 1913-14
Philo Woodworth 1843-44 A.J. Saxe 1914-18
Israel Kellogg 1844-45 Frank A. Boyd 1918-26
Johathan Watts 1845-47 Bruce E. Pierce 1926-29
Daniel S. Chase 1847-49 H.G. Stearns 1929-35
C.L. Bowen 1849-51 Howard Andrews 1935-40
I.K. Tuttle 1851-53 Cyril Winkworth 1940-45
John Dennis 1853-55 Benjamin Rowe 1945-54
Dr. Hogaboom 1855-59 Howard E. Adamy 1954-63
Dr. Sutherland 1859-61 John W. Lewien 1963-70
David Nutten 1861-63 James M. LeGro 1970-76
Otis L. Gibson 1863-65 Gilbert Mitchell 1976-85
Dr. D.D. Buck 1865-67 Herbert Hoskins 1985-90
G. VanAlstyne 1867-70 Rhonda Kouterick 1990-98
William Manning 1870-72 Elton Smith 1998-2005
F.H. Stanton 1872-74 Roger Smith 2005-14
J.V. Benham 1875-77 Robin Blair 2014-15
L.F. Condon 1877-81 Hyun Joo Yang 2015-19
W.R. Banham 1881-82 Patience Kisakye 2019-
A.J. Kenyon 1882-85
J.C. Nichols 1885-88
C.H. Wright 1888-91

See Worship – Sanctuary for additional information regarding the history of the Methodist church in Newark, NY.  Sanctuary

The stained glass speaks the gospel story of the birth of our Savior, attended by angels, shepherds, and most unusually, a child and a woman. The story runs deep in our hearts to affirm God’s people are to receive the gift of grace that comes from the Lord.  Stained Glass

Stained Glass photo by Vicki George

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